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spying on its closest friends. more questions about which world leaders are targeted by the nsa, and why the president claims he knew nothing about it. >>> plus a massive man hunt under wray tonight. prisoners off the run after taking an unusual escape route. >>> let's go out front. >>> and good evening, everyone. i'm erin burnett. out front tonight. breaking news under pressure. the obama administration has just authorized the release of more details about the american government's collection of telephone data. the director of national intelligence, james clapper just said this in a statement. their declassification is not done lightly. i have determined, however, that the harm to national security from the release of these documents is outweighed by the public interest. now clapper and other officials are all going to be testifying in detail about this program on capitol hill tomorrow. the white house, though, so far has begged ignorance. but what exactly is the president's role? here's what we know. now hear me out here. a u.s. official tells cnn tonight that president obama was brief
coming out swinging. finally someone in the administration defense nsa spying. their defense was clear, and aggressive. >> do you believe that the allies have conducted or at any time any type of espionage activity against the united states of america our intelligence services our leaders or otherwise? >> absolutely. >> there has not been a mass casualty here in the u.s. since 2001. that's not by luck. they continue to try. it is the great members in the intelligence community, our military, our law enforcement that have stood up and said, this is our job. >> defending themselves with passion and conviction, which up to this point we hadn't seen much of in terms of defense. jim sciutto closely watched the entire hearing today. jim, what were the revelations at the hearing? >> reporter: you got the sense as you say, erin, they were just waiting to go have the chance to push back like this. they pushed back very strong here. first on spying both clapper and alexander saying that our allies spy on us, including on our leaders, that in fact the intelligence services in europe do so to an e
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